Family Christmas at The Westin Jakarta
Christmas is a time for family. It’s the spirit that the team at The Westin Jakarta wants to foster for the holiday.
“We are trying to do a traditional kind of feel for families to enjoy the holiday, whether they come to eat with us or stay with us,” says General Manager Arun Kumar about Christmas at The Westin Jakarta.
Yes, there will be more food stations, live cooking and an Indonesian feel to traditional Western dishes at Seasonal Tastes for brunch and dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
But The Westin Jakarta won’t stop there. “We want to support the local community,” Arun says.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Director of Marketing and Communications Desiree Merlina. “Christmas is all about celebrating with family–and for children, making it friendlier and merrier.”
Part of that, according to Arun, is the Enchanted Hobbitland playland–complete with little people on the weekends–that will take up half the Sky Lounge from Dec. 4 to 27. Inside will be Gingerbread Man cookies for sale–and all proceeds will go to benefit a local orphanage. “We want to keep the Christmas spirit alive,” Arun says.
Family is at the core of The Westin Jakarta, despite the challenges of hotels.
“I’ve worked every celebration or holiday,” Food and Beverage Manager Freddie Khoo says, in the business since 1993. “Not one of them did I miss. There was only one New Year’s Eve I didn’t work–and I didn’t know what to do.”
Freddie’s memories of pre-hotel life holidays in Kuala Lumpur, Malyasia, are more festive. “On Christmas Eve, we’d have a mass at night, gather after mass at home for a smaller makan-makan.” His mom’s take on the holiday dinner had a local touch, with shrimp and crabs in a tamarind sauce.
Food is also at the center of Desiree’s Christmas memories: escaping to her auntie’s in Bogor for pork satay, rendang and her aunt’s speciality, a Javanese-influenced ayam bumbu rujak–a grilled chicken in part sweet and sour, with tumeric and chili. “It’s more relaxed eating in a house like that, when you’re not limited by time–from morning to evening.”
Sales Director Karen Choo started planning her year-end escape in March. On the agenda is eight days in Finland, a reindeer safari and chasing the Northern Lights. It’s a departure from her usual Christmas. “The family usually gathers in my cousin’s place in Singapore. Nieces and nephew, aunt and uncle get together–and we love to gossip.”
Meanwhile, Executive Chef Daniel Kuser celebrates the holiday with the two different cooking traditions of his parents when at home in Switzerland–Christmas Eve for German-Swiss, Christmas for Italian-Swiss. Holiday confections remain some of his favorites.
“It’s a shame that it’s only for Christmas that we make cookies,” Daniel says, recalling how his grandmother baked. “I remember as a child, playing with the dough. You can eat it raw, eat it with your fingers–take it from the bowl and play with it.”
Daniel says Seasonal Tastes will go local for Christmas. On offer will be perennial holiday favourites such as roast leg of lamb, stuffed lobster, Christmas turkey–with Yorkshire pudding and lots of gravy, of course–a roast beef and Christmas sweets, ranging from Gingerbread Men to sweet roulade Yule logs to delightful cakes.
“We don’t want to lose the Indonesian touch,” says Executive Sous Chef Denny Gunawan. “There’ll be lots of simmering, but using spices to keep it festive.”
The locally sourced lobster, for example, will be seasoned with salt, pepper and oil and served with a sambal rica rica on top; the turkey will get a betutu-style rub, with garlic, shallots, candlenut, lemongrass and lime leaf and the lamb will get a touch of turmeric.
Finally, topping things off on the 67th floor of The Westin Jakarta, Chef Hajime at Henshin will offer a special three-course meal for Christmas, featuring a roast turkey bathed in a special Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese) rub.
THE WESTIN JAKARTA
Jalan Rasuna Said, Blok C No.22, Jakarta
T: +6221 27887788
Facebook: The Westin Jakarta
Photos by Himawan Sutanto